by Tom Haupert
Home Church's Senior Friends visited the
North Carolina Transportation Museum recently,
arriving a few days before one of the Big Events at the museum,
the unveiling of a just-restored Civil War steam engine,
combined with the visit of the famous Norfolk & Western J 611.
Here's the J 611, in all her shining glory, under steam:
The J series of N & W engines was part of the final flowering
of steam in the US.
With only 70 inch drivers, this engine, produced in N & W's Roanoke shops
in 1950, has been measured pulling 15 passenger cars (950 tons)
in excess of 110 miles an hour,
in part made possible by an extremely rigid frame,
lightweight connecting rods, and precise balancing of the total drive-train
One of those lightweight connecting rods:
It must be quite a privilege to accompany and attend to this machinery.
Each piston is thought to deliver 2,550 horsepower at speed (5100 hp total)
For scale, note the round valve handle in the upper right.
The Museum's engine shop will restore a steam engine for
between 1 and 2 million dollars.
It has just finished restoring "The Texas."
This is the Confederate Civil War engine that gave chase in "the great locomotive chase" in 1862, catching up to the the General locomotive,
commanded by Northern troops (as retold in a Walt Disney film of 1956).
It was awesome (in both senses of the word)
to stand before this piece of history.